Saturday, April 19, 2008

Weaving Heathenism into the Larger Tribal Community

I went to a Pow-wow today, and was struck by several things. First, the total lack of any presence of the heathen community. We should be at pow-wows and other native events to begin weaving connections with the Native people of this land, and let them know that another folk have begun walking the road and tapping the indigenous roots. Dan Miller, Lawspeaker for the Heathen Freehold Society of British Columbia (, has begun the invitation :, and this must be just the beginning of a long and productive interrelationship.

Secondly, the pride of these folks, as they appeared in their traditional, shamanic, flamboyant regalia, as they danced around the circle to the drums and the singing. This was out in the open, celebratory, proud, public demonstration of native values and pride. All of us should be equally as proud of the beat of the earth moving through us, and speak that pulse, without fear or shame. It is important that the Native peoples know that the thunder, the earth, the sun, the sky are beginning to speak through us, and that we are ready to come to the table as equals who have reclaimed all that the imperialists and colonialists threw out in their drive for superiority. They need to know that this is something deep, authentic, and real : this ain't no "popcorn medicine men" or soft-focus, dazzled imitators. (I will not engage in schadenfreude towards seekers, however naive or novice, but it is still important to emphasize the value of root.) This is something we feel in our bones and our blood, our flesh and our loins, and a reawakening has begun. We should be courteous but not shy, proud but not arrogant, eager to share and eager to listen, ready to acknowledge mistakes and areas where there is room for improvement, and exercise honesty about the deeds laid down which we have a right to be proud of because they are the beginnings of a new era that restores all that was good about the old.

Thirdly, but connected to this second point, it made me think about traditional Viking and Germanic - era costume. I've never really felt the need to dress up in such gear, but it made me think that perhaps I'd like to invest in such an outfit, not because I need such to appear before the Gods, but rather, to have the regalia that lets other tribal people know that I am one of the re-indigenizing, because this could start conversations. I'm afraid in the non-descript outfit I was wearing I didn't attract much attention, certainly not in comparison to the traditional outfits some were wearing, but with a traditional costume (say, like the one Raven Kaldera is wearing here :) , attention and conversation are sure to start up.

Fourthly, there was a woman of European descent there who spoke so sadly about the fact that she was not Native American, and despite the fact that all people were once tribal, that she was separated by thousands of years from her tribal ancestors, and so little had survived. I spoke up and said, "Actually, that's not true, there really is a lot." This underlined for me the hunger there is for authentic heathenism out there. There is really a niche out there for something powerful which we have to offer if we will get our heads out of our asses and stop being dickwads. We've got powerful goods to offer people with tremendous needs. We really need to find a way to present this to people as the Old Ways, the Tribal Ways. Yes, this is a "religion", but sometimes that word puts people into a particular state of mind that can bring up resistance. It is better to say this is a folkways, an old, indigenous path, a sacred tribal spirituality that offers a base and root from which to relate to indigenous people everywhere as equals trying to repave the native road.

Finally, we need to be reconstructing the ancient dance, music, and storytelling that always used to accompany a feast! The Christian clerics were in a frenzy about how much dance was a part of the traditional culture of European societies, so we know it featured largely. We need to be able to show up to a pow-wow, and not just blot or sumble, but to show our own dances and music. This is a really neglected part of modern heathenism that we need to revive, with a vengeance! Native peoples know that dancing is a form of praying with one's feet, and we need to rediscover this vital part of our ancestral path, because it will bring vibrancy and power to our reawakening and revival.


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